Joseph Roth in “The Radetzky March” on aristocratic principles


“The morals of the time were, as we know, severe. But exceptions were made, often with alacrity. This was one of a handful of aristocratic principles, according to which ordinary citizens were second-class people, but the occasional middle-class officer was made personal equerry to the Emperor; according to which Jews were barred from claiming high honours, but the odd Jew was ennobled, and hobnobbed with archdukes; according to which women were expected to be first chaste and then faithful, but this or that particular woman was afforded a cavalry officer’s licence to love. (All these principles we like to call hypocritical today, because we are so much more unyielding, implacable and deadly earnest.)”

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